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Affordable Housing, Low Wages Top Concerns From Park City Social Equity Survey

Lynn Ware Peek

Housing is a critical priority for Park City—and a survey shows it also appears to be a barrier to the city’s social equity goals. 

Allie has lived in Park City for eight years. In the past, she worked at a Park City preschool—now she’s in hospitality. But after living in the same apartment in Prospector for six years, Allie has to move out, and finding something in her price range within city limits is proving difficult.

“The place that I live in now, I pay $825 for just myself, plus all utilities. Basically, any one bedroom that I've seen in town is $1800, which is double what I pay," Allie said. "Even Heber area is almost $1400 for a one bedroom, and you know, I'm 30 years old—I don't need to be living with a bunch of people at this point.”

The Park City Community Foundation recently previewed the results of its social equity gap analysisto the Park City Council. The survey polled 706 respondents who live or work in Park City, with the majority identifying as white and 20% as Latinx. Twice the number of women as men took the survey, with a few respondents identifying as other genders. The number one concern for participants was affordable housing, followed by low wages; affordable and safe childcare; lack of feeling included; and access to healthcare.

Councilmember Tim Henney noted that some of those issues go hand in hand, like wages and access to housing—something Coalville resident Brian can attest to. He’s lived on the Wasatch Back for 30 years and works retail in the Park City area. Every year when he gets a raise from corporate headquarters—usually an additional 30 cents an hour—Brian says his rent also seems to go up.

“My landlord pretty much takes whatever wage increases I get every year, so I'm basically kind of treading water," Brian said. "I think a lot of people that are in my position are feeling that.”

As far as Park City’s affordable housing offerings go, Allie says she’s looked into it, but she feels like her current salary doesn’t support her enough to start paying a mortgage. On the other hand, if her income increased, she’d make too much to qualify for affordable housing. If she can’t find housing within her budget, Allie says she’ll probably move out of state.

“I moved to Park City to use my body; to have fun, and be walking distance from miles and miles of trails, and five minutes from skiing and things like that," Allie said. "It sort of was the East Coast dream to move  'out West,'—it was kind of what all of us wanted to do who grew up skiing avidly. So, I want to be in town.”

The Park City Community Foundation is finalizing a report on the social equity gaps analysis to be presented to the City Council later. The next step in the process will be to analyze the data with the Social Equity Advisory Committee, to prioritize issues and determine what can realistically be addressed.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.